Seminars, Conferences and Forums

Lecture series - "A short history of the photon" - Prof. Fulvio Parmigiani
October 5-15, 2021

History of the Photon
“All those 50 years of careful pondering have not brought me closer to the answer to the question: ‘What are light quanta?’ Today any old scamp believes he knows, but he’s deluding himself.” 

(A. Einstein in a letter to Michele Besso, 12 Dec. 1951)


A set of four lectures on the foundation and rise of concepts, physics and mathematical formalisms nowadays used to describe the light quanta, an elusive particle with no mass but subject to gravitation effects, as those predicted by the mathematical singularities (black holes) that emerge from the field equations of the general relativity, from which the photon are trapped.

In the FIRST LECTURE I will provide a fresco of the historical and philosophical roots that give rise to the idea of "grains of light". This period will extend from the ancient philosophers to the Newton’s Era.

In the SECOND LECTURE we will immerse ourselves in the crucible where classical physics evolved into quantum physics and the history of the photon will be our guide to review opposing ideas in comparison and ideological clashes between the giants of physics across the XIX and XX centuries.

In the THIRD LECTURE we will review the ideas, the experiments, and the formalisms adopted by a crew of physicists who changed the physics of electromagnetic radiation and probably the physics itself, forever. These people range from Einstein, to Fermi, from Dirac/Heisember to von Neuman, till the crucial Compton scatering experiment. We will explore the history and controversies that laid the foundation for what we now call "quantum optics.”

In the LAST LECTURE, as in the crescendo of a great polyphonic symphony, we will follow, step by step, what today we can define a fundamental mutation of quantum physics born from the head-on collision between two schools of thought on the completeness of quantum mechanics and therefore two ways of understanding physics. What will emerge is a physics bearer of the idea of zero point energy and then the idea of quantum vacuum, explaining the interference and diffraction produced by single particles (massive and massless) violating the principle of space-time superposition so far required to explain these phenomena


First Lecture - 5/10/21 - 17:00-18:00  - File PDF
Second Lecture - 7/10/21 - 17:00-18:00 - File PDF
Third Lecture - 12/10/21 - 17:00-18:00 - File PDF
Fourth Lecture  - 15/10/21 -  17:00-18:00 - File PDF

Hands-on workshop "Quantum Software on Real Quantum Computers”


We experience the benefits of classical computing every day. However, there are challenges that today’s systems will never be able to solve. For problems above a certain size and complexity, we don’t have enough computational power on Earth to tackle them. To stand a chance at solving some of these problems, we need a new kind of computing. Universal quantum computers leverage the quantum mechanical phenomena of superposition and entanglement to create states that scale exponentially with number of qubits, or quantum bits.

Quantum supremacy is nowadays a fact: researchers have been able to use a quantum computer to perform a single calculation that no conventional computers, even the biggest supercomputer, can perform in a reasonable amount of time.

The University of Trieste is no new to this topic as students can sign up for Master degree in Data Science and Scientific Computing that aims at educating and training the professionals for the future.

The Department of Physics of the University of Trieste, in collaboration with IBM, has organized the first hands-on workshop on “Quantum Software on Real Quantum Computers” on Tuesday 29th October 2019. The workshop was led by Dr M. Grossi (IBM) with an Introduction and a Tutorial on quantum gates. The 40 participants had the chance to try quantum software on their own computers and therefore experience first-hand the quantum potential.

Horizons - Seminars2019

Student initiative for students

The first event of the Horizons-Seminars2019, the series of seminars for students held by students, was held in Room A of the Department of Physics Unit on 03/27/2019. In the words of the organizers: "This series of seminars aims to explore, one by one, the most interesting advances and results in physics, every drop of curiosity daily flowing from the edge of research, from the edge of knowledge."

Brainchild of a group of students of our Department, together with prof. Fulvio Parmigiani, the initiative was well received by students: around 50 people attended the debut event, well beyond expectations.

The event has gained support from different institutions: from the direction of the Department in the person of the director prof. Giovanni Comelli, immediately enthusiastic about the idea, to the University of Trieste, which provided full cooperation in spreading and advertising the event. In the introductory speech prof. Parmigiani summarized the spirit of the initiative by inviting students to "slowly raise heads from toes and look at the sky". Two 30-minutes seminars followed.

The first one, held by Vito Dichio and Enrico Drigo, both students attending the first year of master's degree in our CdL, was named "Networks: Unveiling Complexity". The presentation introduced the audience to network theory and the study of complexity: a modern, interdisciplinary field of research born and developed in the last twenty years.

The second one, held by Alfredo Fiorentino, of the first year of our master's degree, had the title "Anomalous Diffusion And Fractional Calculus ": starting from the physics of the anomalous diffusion phenomenon, the speech investigated the tools of fractional calculation and how they emerge in the description of nature. Given the large participation for the debut event and the widespread enthusiasm for the initiative, in the next months it will go on developing new seminars and exploring new borders of the modern research in physics.

This is the link for the Telegram channel to follow this initiative: and the slides of the two interventions are available among the attachments.


Presentation of the seminars

Horizons-Seminars2019 stems from a talk, from a deep thought, from a urgency: the need to expand students' interests beyond the (limited, inevitably) range of topics of everyday's didactics.

30-minutes seminars, held by students for students, about non-standard topics of modern physics.

Spelunking in the research-worlds, this series of seminars aims to explore, one by one, the most interesting advances and results in physics, every drop of curiosity daily flowing from the edge of research, from the edge of knowledge.



Quantum café

Initiative conceived and developed by prof. Angelo Bassi

The Quantum Café is an interdisciplinary and inclusive activity, intended for the general public, that combines science, music and theater to enhance public participation in the scientific arena and offers food for thought on quantum mechanics. The Quantum Café will benefit from the participation of Trieste top theatre and music performers, besides academic elite. Many young people involved, with the participation of the students of the Music Conservatory G. Tartini of Trieste and those of the SISSA Master Course in Science Communication F. Prattico. Professors of the University of Trieste & INFN and Queen’s University Belfast will deliver scientific talks on quantum mechanics. The first evening of the Quantum Café is an official event of Barcolana 2018.

The Quantum Cafè is a science popularization, in the frame of his research project TEQ “Testing the Large Scale Limit of Quantum Mechanics”, that started in 2018 thanks to a sizeable H2020 grant. This initiative falls within the largest spectrum of scientific cafes of the University of Trieste for the fall 2018.

Last update: 10-18-2021 - 10:51